Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sulfa - the Commissar that Vanished

Until 2007 and Professor John E Lesch's "The First Miracle Drugs" , the most recent book on the sulfa drugs aimed at the general book-reading public dated from late 1943.

Of course, that was just before the story of Baby Patricia made natural penicillin the new 'miracle drug' sensation - a position it largely retains today.

In societies uncomfortable with the very idea of 'failure' , projects aren't allowed to fail and die - instead they merely disappear and become invisible, forgotten and denied.

In the case of Sulfa drugs, that means Germany, the UK and the US -all intent on forgetting their hopes and disappointments over Sulfa compounds.

One wonders how hard it was then for this American author to find a American publisher for his book ?

Sometimes it is societies more comfortable with failure ( or more uncomfortable with success) that deal better with 'failure tales' such as the fate of Sulfa drugs.

No current study exists of the successes, failures and hopes of synthetic drug-making in general, from 1895 to 1945, before biologically-based drugs like the antibiotics took (or was that re-took ?) centre stage.

Synthetic drugs were only a part - but a very emotionally powerful part - of the worldwide push, from 1850s till the 1950s, to synthesise and replace as much as possible of the natural world , in attempt to speed up Darwin's evolution.

This is because synthetic drugs intent on keeping us alive, seem themselves more 'alive' than did synthetic silk, aka nylon, for example.

As such, it was an exact counterpart to the contemporary Eugenics movement, attempting to do the same with human beings.

We need such a study because the obsession with replacing an 'imperfect' world with a manmade 'better' one has hardly died ...

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